The Los Angeles Angels hope that several additions to the roster can help them move past a disappointing 2021 campaign when they begin the season against the Houston Astros on Thursday in Anaheim.
Two important players, though, will not be coming from outside the organization.
Center fielder Mike Trout and third baseman Anthony Rendon missed most of last season because of injuries, with Trout playing in just 36 games and Rendon in 58. Trout didn’t play at all after May 17, while Rendon’s last game was July 4.
But both are healthy now and having both of them in the lineup should make an immediate impact.
Rendon dealt with a number of injuries, none worse than the hip impingement that required surgery in August. The surgery went well and he was able to begin working out in November.
“I was not even able to rotate my hips,” he said. “And if you look back at the highlights over the last two years, my back leg doesn’t move. It doesn’t rotate. … I didn’t know why. I knew something was wrong, even though every MRI and CT scan was clean. But I was feeling this pain for a reason, so I had to dig in deeper and find out what was going on.
“It was kind of a relief realizing they found something wrong. I think coming back healthy, my mind should be good.”
Trout injured his right calf running the bases and initially was expected to be out six to eight weeks. Instead, he missed the rest of the season.
“We threw everything at it,” Trout said. “And basically when I was shut down, I didn’t do anything. I let it heal on its own for a few weeks. I got back into my training right away, and the first week, probably two weeks, I felt like a little tightness in there, and then it went away. I haven’t thought about it since.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon is expected to bat defending American League MVP Shohei Ohtani in the leadoff spot, followed by Trout and Rendon. In addition to batting leadoff, Ohtani (9-2, 3.18 ERA in 23 starts last year) will be on the mound for Los Angeles against Astros starter Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14 ERA in 22 starts) on Thursday.
Valdez went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts against the Angels last year.
Ohtani went 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA in two starts against Houston last season.
One player Ohtani won’t have to face is shortstop Carlos Correa, who signed with the Minnesota Twins.
Instead, the Astros will start Jeremy Pena at shortstop, a strong defensive player who was limited to 30 games last season at Triple-A Sugar Land because of a broken wrist suffered in spring training. He hit well after returning from the injury, hitting 10 home runs with a .944 OPS for the Skeeters.
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve said the club will not only miss the numbers that Correa can produce, but also his presence in the clubhouse. The Astros reportedly offered Correa $160 million for five years, but he ultimately signed with Minnesota for $105 million over three years.
Altuve found out about the deal when Correa called him.
“I was surprised, I wasn’t expecting that,” Altuve said. “Obviously we’re going to miss him. He’s a great player and a great guy inside the clubhouse. He was one of our leaders.
“We had dinner so many times. We spent a lot of time in rooms together talking about different things. That’s what I’m going to miss the most. … (But) I’m happy for Jeremy that he might get the opportunity to come and play in the big leagues and establish himself as an everyday player.”
–Field Level Media